Sunday, August 30, 2009

A little time to breathe

Hello my lovely knitting and sewing and crocheting friends! I finally got to give this shawl to it's owner, so I can brag with some photos!

Super simple pattern, called Melody's Shawl, that creates an incredibly diverse set of end products depending on the yarn and needle sized used. This shawl was made with Posh yarn, a lace weight blend of silk and merino wool, which was super fine and super lovely to knit with!

However, the super fine-ness of it did mean I had to knit forever and ever. I can't even remember how much television watching and bus riding accompanied the making of this shawl, but it was not insignificant. Thankfully, the simplicity of the pattern was made for these kinds of activities, and were perfect during a summer in which I dearly needed distractions.

I took this picture at a point when I thought I was nearly done and then realized I had only knit about half of what I had planned!

And this shows my first serious blocking job! I used all of my block mats, and then had to pull them apart to stretch the shawl out to be as wide and long as I wanted. I might have tried to make it a bit larger, actually, but this table was the largest cat and baby-free flat surface that I had available to me, so that was the size I ended up with.

I'm going to try and post a bit more often than I did in the last two months, but how's about an update in crafty news from others? Someone should definitely find a ribbon hanging and refurbish it to hang in glory in their new condo.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arlington County Fair

My Metro vest was a Reserve Grand Champion at the fair.

You've seen all these projects before, but here they are with their ribbons from the fair. I haven't knit much at all since I finished the vest with the south side knitters gave me at New Year's, but I gathered up my entries for the fair. I knew the vest would be a contender, but I never expected a grand champion ribbon. It's a first for me. For those not familiar with county fair protocols, Each department (in this case Art Needlework) is divided into Sections (in this case Knitting) and then each Section is divided into Classes (for example, sleeveless sweaters or vests, pullovers, scarves, hats, baby sets, etc) In addition all the participants are divided into Divisions (pre-K, 6-12, teens, adults). For each class there are potentially three ribbons - blue for first, red for second, white for third place. The blue ribbons from all the classes compete for Champion (first place) and Reserve Champion (second place) in the Section. Then all the eChampions compete for Grand Champion (first place) and Reserve Grand Champion (second place) in the Department. So my metro vest beat out not only all but one item in the knitting, but the crocheted items, quilts, sewn dresses, hooked rugs, needlepoint, embroidery, etc. That would be more impressive if there really were multiple entries in all those categories. I can remember when the fair was really competitive, but this year there really weren't all that many exhibitors. The judges always reserve the right not to award all the ribbons, so my sweater ascended up the competition even though it was only the Reserve Champion in knitting (the pink rosette ribbon in the picture) The Grand Champion was a lovely knitted lace shawl. I entered the Jitterbug cabled sleeveless sweater almost as an afterthought and it won a blue ribbon. (I entered it in the pullover category because you can only enter one item per class, and I entered the other vest in the sleeveless sweater category. ) I entered the scarf in the "exhibitor's choice" class, a catch all for items that don't clearly fit in other classes. I entered it together with the hat I designed and a short narrow scarf to show how the hand-dyed yarn produced three entirely different designs with the same stitch in different widths (fractals), and the set won a red ribbon (2nd place). The judge wrote nice comments on the back of the entry tags: "Gorgeous color and design work, beautiful stitching, woven ends need to be clipped" and 'wonderful cable pattern and beautiful use of fine multi-colored yarn. Reminded us of a Monet garden" for the south side vest and "Great stitches and use of multi-color yarn" for the scarf/hat set.
I encourage all you young knitters to seek out your local county fair and enter your knitting and other crafts. It's fun and gratifying, but not nearly as satisfying as when there was real competition. I'm afraid my old competitors have died off or gone blind and too arthritic to enter the fair, and the creative new generation of knitters isn't aware of the fair tradition. (Or maybe with blogs and websites satisfy the need to share and make the fair tradition totally unnecessary. ) Once again, as a bleeding edge boomer, I'm caught between two models, a bridge between generations. My grandfather was a professional fair manager - in the first decade of the 20th century he was manager of the Van Wert (Ohio) County Fair, and later was the full time manager for the North Carolina State Fair and then the Ohio State Fair. So I'm his direct descendent, but I'm also a contributor to this blog and Ravelry. Have you all seen a butter cow?
Last year when my job was less stressful I knit up a storm. Since January I've been sucked back into the mainstream implementing the Recovery Act/Economic Stimulus programs at my agency and I find I have no creative energy at all. I've tried three times to start a new project and keep coming up empty. Hopefully the economy will recover and so will my knitting, soon.